If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Romans 12: 18

 

This statement is about as conditional as Paul ever gets, for he rarely leaves this much to our own discretion and understanding of the situation. Yet, here in this proverbial saying that is placed within a string of similar expressions, we are told to do something “If possible.” So, whose possibility is to make that determination? If it is mine, then there may be very few times when I am really going to live peaceably with people who rub me the wrong way, or hold views about issues that differ from mine, or come from a different cultural background than mine. The possibility for exception to that directive to live peaceably gets to be very long quite quickly, and the list of people with whom I am living in peace becomes short enough that I can readily handle it on my own.

 

Perhaps that is really the point. God’s desire for us in all aspects of life is that we would let go of control and surrender all of it to Him. So, in this very challenging area of relationships with other people, God is giving us the option of releasing our grip upon the rules for acceptance or rejection of others or of holding onto them so that we manage the way that we interact with the human elements of our world. To me, this places the idea of possibility into an entirely different light. It says that my relational boundaries and barriers can be either as narrow as my own definitions and comfort or they can be as expansive and inclusive as are God’s. This is the real choice that Paul is proposing to us, and it is one that he had entered into, himself, as a significant aspect of Paul’s coming to Christ involved the reordering of his view of God’s mission for him in relation to accepting or persecuting people who viewed their relationship with God differently than did Paul, the Pharisee.

 

It seems to me that entering fully into the possibilities in connecting with and caring about and for others is predicated upon surrender to Christ. The more of myself that I give over to my Lord in submission to His will, the more likely it is that I will see the lovable and the beautiful in people who would otherwise make me uncomfortable or worse. There is no one on this earth who Christ cannot love. There are no people for whom He did not die in order to redeem them from the death that belongs to all who are born into this world. So, there should be very few people who I am unable to care about and to love with a similar passion and redemptive desire. Now, I am not Christ, and all of this depends upon the response of others in order for me to be able to live peaceably with them, but, in so far as I am able to impact the outcome of the interaction, I can yield my attitudes, actions, and responses to Christ with my heart and mind set upon doing all that I can to enter into productive life together with all of the people that God grants me the gift of encountering during my days.

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Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

1 Corinthians 16: 13, 14

 

Although it is really easy to get caught up in the contemplative aspects of connecting with God through prayer and meditation, it is important to take what we learn in this manner and to put feet onto it throughout our day. These words are filled with the action of a life lived in a close relationship with Christ. Faith is not something that we hold quietly inside. It is not a passive quality of our lives as Christians. It is the fuel of the words and the actions that are the substance of what we do and of how we are perceived each day. Faith in the God that we have come to know and who knows us deeply, who made us to fulfill the life purpose that we are faced with each day, this is the faith that provides the strength and that opens our hearts and our minds to the ways that the Lord will use us this day.

 

We are to continually look for and to be attuned to the needs of others, and we should seek out opportunities to speak and to act in the name of Christ. We are also to be alert for the satanic attacks that will go with a life lived for Him. It is important to prepare to stand up for what we believe. Sometimes this is in words; more often it is in the actions that we take and in the way that we treat others. This takes courage and strength. We may be required to do and to say things that the world around us will look at as irrational or just plain dumb. We still need to be ready to do it; for, we need to be ready to set aside the rational processes of considering our personal risk and be willing to let the Holy Spirit take charge of the moment. As the famous add campaign says, “Just Do It!”.

 

One final thing to consider, action can be very powerful and a bit addicting. We can get caught up in the adrenalin rush that comes from our desire to live fully for Christ; therefore, the final instruction here is that we should do everything with one, singular and overarching motive. Faith tells us that we can trust God’s love for us as his primary motive in relating to us. Perhaps the most courageous quality that we are called upon by God to employ in our daily living for Him is that of love. Faith gives us the strength that is needed to drop the sword that we naturally want to let lead our way through life and to open our hands and our arms in order to embrace the lost and the hurting people that Christ will place into our paths.

 

Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moths nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6: 20

 

There are a number of places where I have things stored. My closet is rather full, the pantry is well stocked, and our garage contains way too much stuff. Storing away for that future need is something that I have worked on for most of my life. I am rather good at it, and trust me on this, there is a very good reason behind holding onto every one of the things that is filling my world. No, this is not hording; this is carefully anticipating the future. Alright, there is far more set aside than I will ever use. It is at that point where clutter has overcome utility and where value is lost to mass. Unfortunately, the sort of useless debris that clutters my house is too often symbolic of the nature of the worth of the images, thoughts, and ideas that I collect and store away in my heart and mind. It is also too much like the things that I hold as important and as worthy objects of energy and attention.

 

This world is filled with information. It is readily available and easily accessed. Some of it is very good to have. A lot of it is of no real use at all. Some of it is truly dangerous. There is also a very wide assortment of things that we can desire and seek to own. Some of it is necessary, some trivial, and some of these things can bring us harm. In all of the areas and ways that we gather and collect, the item of our interest is seldom the real problem. Most of the time we are challenged and struggle with the attitude that is behind the pursuit of it. When the majority of our time is spent on getting what we want and on becoming knowledgeable in how to get it, there is very little time or personal resource left for caring about and loving others. There is little of myself available to Christ for engaging in worship or for doing His will in this world.

 

God wants His people to spend our time with Him. He desires for us to worship Him. Seeking after God and gazing upon His face is the most worthy and valuable thing that we can do in this life. Seeking God in His Word leads us into the vast storehouse of truth, grace, and wisdom that fills every need that we could possible encounter. The sort of continual conversation that is life-prayer brings understanding and clarity to every situation and aspect that is encountered. As we talk, Christ speaks His absolutely loving righteousness into my frail and damaged heart. He brings courage to a place where only fear had been, and Christ leads me into actions that glorify Him. Our Lord grants us an understanding of His will that should cause us to enter into the lives of others and to value them and their souls as greatly as He does. Thus, here is that great treasure that God wants us to focus all of our energy upon. As we know God, so we come to know His will. As we know His will, we are led to sacrifice all of ourselves so that others will know Him.